June 25, 2007

Dictating What You *Have* To Log [12:17 pm]

Dangerous Ruling Forces Search Engine to Log Users

The ruling came in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by motion picture studios against TorrentSpy, a popular search engine that indexes materials made publicly available via the Bit Torrent file sharing protocol. TorrentSpy has never logged its visitors’ Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Notwithstanding this explicit privacy policy, a federal magistrate judge has now ordered TorrentSpy to activate logging and turn the logged data over to the studios.

[...] The magistrate judge incorrectly reasoned that, because the IP addresses exist in the Random Access Memory (RAM) of TorrentSpy’s webservers, they are “electronically stored information” that must be collected and turned over to the studios under the rules of federal discovery.

This decision could reach every function carried out by a digital device. [...]

The order is not yet posted (if it ever will be), but here’s a memo of points and authorities in support of the appeal.

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The Other Record Companies [8:45 am]

Look to the local labels for proof of Seattle’s diverse musicpdf

Though much has changed in the music industry since 1987, the definition of an independent (or indie) record label has not. An indie exists without support from any of the four major music distributors: Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI. Often, an indie relies on an outside distributor such as Redeye or NAIL to get its releases into stores.

Some believe the difference between an indie and a major lies in the motivations of the owners. Big labels want money and lots of it. Indies often are headed up by those with a deep passion for music and few aspirations for the champagne and private-jet lifestyle. Owners of indies work long hours, often start out with little or no pay and can expect to use a stack of CDs as a coffee table.

[...] Sullivan is quick to point out the benefit that digital communication has brought as well. With established networking sites such as MySpace and retail outlets such as CD Baby, small labels or independent artists need very little technical skill to reach fans in distant corners of the globe. Amazon.com has a store devoted to indie labels. ITunes also devotes programming space to independent releases.

Digital access helps indies counterbalance the effects of media consolidation. As the four major music companies become increasingly interconnected with traditional means of exposure such as radio and magazines, getting your music heard becomes increasingly difficult.

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More on Video Game Addiction [8:17 am]

(Followup to A New Pathology?) AMA may identify excessive video game play as addiction

Testimony at the AMA annual meeting seemed to favor deferring to the American Psychiatric Assn., which will make the final call as it writes a new edition of a diagnostic manual for mental health professionals.

Sunday’s debate at the AMA centered on whether enough science was available to classify excessive video game playing as an addiction and whether the organization should advocate an outright classification as an addiction or push for limits on game playing such as one to two hours of “total daily screen time.”

[...] Other groups urged the AMA to back down from declaring excessive video game playing an addiction, saying such activity is problematic but more a societal issue than a medical problem.

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Reading the Tea Leaves [8:12 am]

But making a peculiar extrapolation, IMHO: News Corp.’s China moves a worry in U.S.

Fears that Rupert Murdoch would jeopardize the editorial independence of the Wall Street Journal have been a key sticking point in the News Corp. chairman’s proposed $5-billion takeover of the newspaper’s parent, Dow Jones & Co.

Critics cite as the latest example of those dangers Murdoch’s little-noticed introduction in China of his red-hot MySpace Internet property.

[...] Little attention has been paid in the media to MySpace’s recent expansion in China. Already the fifth-most-visited website in the U.S. and a growing force abroad, the dominant social-networking site launched a Chinese version that analysts said goes out of its way to keep users from discussing topics sensitive to the government.

Before the introduction of MySpace China, which carries the slogan “Friend you, friend me,” mainland residents connected to Beverly Hills-based MySpace.com with the same freedom of expression as users anywhere else.

MySpace.cn, the address of the new local service, allows visitors to use Chinese characters but prevents them from blogging about Tibetan religious leader the Dalai Lama, Taiwanese independence and many other subjects. Such phrases and searches for those topics are blocked as “inappropriate,” said Jeremy Goldkorn, a journalist and editor of the Danwei.org blog on Chinese media.

[...] Privately, Murdoch lieutenants portrayed MySpace China’s local ownership as a blessing for News Corp., because the parent will be spared from many of the hard decisions that Google and Yahoo have faced.

In other words, MySpace China can please the government without Murdoch getting much heat from outsiders. Officially, News Corp. licenses the MySpace name and software to MySpace China, and is only a minority investor. A key partner in the project is China Broadband Capital Partners, an investment firm run by former telecom executive Edward Tian.

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